The Ed Fund received nearly 50 applications for the 2023-2024 Awesome Fund student grant, and after a rigorous review process with support from dozens of community members, we are proud to announce that we have awarded $10,325 in Awesome Fund grants to 11 school clubs across five SFUSD high schools: Balboa, Burton, Mission, John O’Connell, and Thurgood Marshall High School.  

The Awesome Fund provides financial support for student-led projects at priority high schools that help enhance the school community, keep students involved in school, and/or provide students with a more meaningful educational experience. Students can apply for a grant ranging from $100 to $1,000. The application is open to any registered student club or high school student with a faculty advisor sponsor from six eligible high schools: Balboa, Burton, John O’ Connell, Misson, June Jordan, and Thurgood Marshall.   

Funded projects include: 

  • The Ethnic Studies Advisory Club at Burton High School which will use funds to bring all 9th graders together in a cultural potluck to celebrate each students’ traditions and cultures;  
  • The recently established OC Soccer Club at John O’Connell High School in which funds will be used to fortify the existing school soccer community and address the void in physical education resulting from the absence of a dedicated P.E. teacher; 
  • The Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) at Mission High will use these funds to spread their mission of providing a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students to explore their identities and connect with the LGBTQ+ community at the school.  

According to Ed Fund CEO Ann Levy Walden, “We are honored to provide Awesome Fund grants to support hundreds of high school students across San Francisco. We believe this funding will fuel a multitude of passion projects, inspiring personal growth, skill development, and positive contributions to both the recipients’ schools and the wider communities they serve.” 

Below please find a complete list of the clubs who have been awarded funding this school year. Congratulations to all of the recipients and best of luck with your projects! 

Balboa High School

Black Student Union (BSU): The BSU at Balboa High plans to host Balboa’s Black Student Solidarity Conference (BSSC), an in-house conference taking place at the end of Black History Month. Through this conference and other club activities, the BSU hopes to build community, provide cultural awareness, and offer resources and networking opportunities. Since 2019, Balboa High’s BSU has been uniting the Black student population at Balboa and “turning enemies to brothers and sisters.” According to Balboa High’s BSU, “Out of a population of 1,300 students, Black students make up 3%. Out of a staff of 300+, Black staff make up 1% of the population. Black students and staff need to connect and find love within themselves again as a Black community that has been overlooked for so long. The BSU and BSSC is a need for Balboa, not a want.”  

Due to the pandemic, Balboa High’s BSU had been put on hold. However, in the Spring of 2023, Balboa’s BSSC made a major comeback with the support of the community. This year, the BSU is hoping to plan an even more impactful conference with the theme of “Representation Matters: Black Voices.” Their hope is to find a space off campus to hold this conference where they will have the proper space to host guest speakers, distribute swag and raffle prizes, serve food, and coordinate a community service project.  

Brain Food Society: Balboa’s Brain Food Society (BFS) has big ideas for engaging students in campus activities. The club’s main goal is to create a space for motivated students to meet and help each other with academics. The students aim to support each other’s professional development by seeking guest speakers to provide advice on the college application process. Also, the Brain Food Society “provides snacks to help meet students’ basic needs, as we know that a well-nourished mind can think better.” 

This year, the BFS is aiming to design three digital displays that will be installed throughout the school and display current happenings on and off campus. They hope that this will increase student engagement and sense of community.  

While participating in the development of this project, students will learn to operate a miniPC and the Python programming language that they will use to make the miniPC work properly and update the digital displays. “Our members will gain a valuable experience with this technology project,” said Majid R., BFS student club leader, “And it will serve to motivate them to pursue a STEM related field in college.” 

Mini Soda Club: Balboa High’s emerging Mini Soda Club hopes to address the lack of art accessibility at their school due to lack of funds after the pandemic. Its goal is to address this issue by creating a well-knit community of healing and fun. Some craft activities that the Mini Soda Club hope will bring students together include jewelry-making, keychains, seed beading, and crochet projects. They also hope to take into account member interest in certain activities especially as they grow their club. Tiffany N., student club leader says, “We hope our members will build a sense of community and gain new hobbies in these times of stress and instability along with learning new experiences in the creative arts.” 

Burton High School

Ethnic Studies Advisory Club: The Ethnic Studies Advisory Club (ESAC) at Burton High has a plan to bring all 9th graders together in a cultural potluck to celebrate each students’ traditions and cultures while building community and making the freshman class feel welcomed. They also plan to use the event as a food drive for those in need and they have hopes to have multiple guest speakers from different races/ethnicities at the event. 

Furthermore, the ESAC wants to start a food pantry and purchase more comfortable furniture for the Ethnic Studies classrooms in order to cultivate a positive and nurturing learning environment. With Ethnic Studies classes soon to be a graduation requirement for all students at Burton, the ESAC hopes to use Ethnic Studies as a base to foster community and connection among students while giving 9th graders a voice and a leadership opportunity. To further cultivate a sense of community, the council will plan events and field trips for all the 9th graders using Ethnic Studies values including love, respect, community, hope, solidarity, unity, and self-determination. 

Mission High School

Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA): Mission High’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is looking to spread its mission of providing a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students to explore their identities and connect with the LGBTQ+ community at the school. This year they hope to do so by having “multiple little projects for the club to do. These projects will include various arts and crafts, such as button making, coloring, painting, flag making, and other creative and fun activities.” One project they are planning is a “drag lab” which the club leaders describe as “an opportunity for us to explore makeup and how we can express ourselves. Some kids might not feel comfortable exploring or talking about exploring their identity with their family or friends so having that space where you can just talk to someone can really make a difference. We exist to help, inspire, educate, and encourage kids to feel proud of who they are.”  

Art/Mural Club: A group of 10+ students at Mission High are setting out to make their school more inviting and joyful by beautifying it with a mural. The club leaders say, “Our school needs a lot of work on getting students motivated and our goal is to help our community by creating murals around the school to beautify our campus. We plan to create several large murals this year, each one designed by a different student. Our goal is to motivate the students at Mission High and to inspire as many people as we can by making our school look more inviting.” They will use the Awesome Fund grant money to buy materials to paint these inspiring murals.  

Investment Club: Mission High’s emerging Investment Club aims to empower their peers with vital financial and investing knowledge for their transition into adulthood. “At Mission High School, we’ve witnessed a consistent intake of first-generation students, individuals from low-income backgrounds, and newcomers,” explained the club leaders. “The club’s formation is a response to the recognition that these students often grapple with unique financial challenges, necessitating guidance in effective financial management. We aim to provide practical ideas and strategies for informed financial decision-making, equipping students with tools to navigate the modern financial world, thus enhancing their financial well-being and ensuring future success.” The club envisions a future where every student, regardless of their background, possesses the knowledge and skills needed to make confident and informed financial decisions, ultimately attaining greater financial independence and success.  

Beyond providing a structured curriculum to teach students financial planning skills, the club will host an organized simulated investing competition which will allow students to apply the theoretical knowledge they’ve acquired in a real-world context. This is not only educational but also a fun way to experience the fluctuation in the stock market without real financial risk.  

John O’Connell High School

Black Student Union: The goal of O’Connell’s Black Student Union (BSU) is to revitalize the Black student and family community, which has seen a decline since the pandemic. With a diminished core of supporting families, the BSU aims to re-energize with new families, empowering both current BSU members and the broader Black student population. The grant will be used to host impactful Black History Month events, including a field trip for BSU members to expose them to Black cultural enrichment that the city has to offer, and an on-campus assembly in February, potentially extending into Women’s History Month. This also includes a family dinner – which has been a BSU tradition for many years, with the goal of integrating Black families more deeply into the school community through entertainment, culture sharing, and activities such as Black History Month Jeopardy. Involving 15-20 BSU members in planning and execution, the aim is to have representation from all grade levels, fostering leadership development and community building. 

Spanish Club: The club’s goal is to provide educational opportunities for John O’Connell’s student population and to foster cultural connections for Spanish-speaking students. Club members recently decorated their campus for Hispanic Heritage month and Dia de los Muertos, featuring papel picado, flores de papel, posters, amates, and face painting. The club is also planning to prepare and serve traditional Latino foods like tacos, salsa, and aguas frescas. With eight current club members, the club aspires to grow and become a diverse group across various grade levels. Emphasizing the importance of representation, Spanish club seeks to share the richness of Latino culture, encompassing food, dance, holidays, traditions, and rituals. Through active participation and engagement, club members believe that these connections will determine the club’s impact, catering to the widespread interest in learning about Latinx culture.  

OC Boys Soccer Club: This club, recently established at John O’Connell High, serves as a point of unity among students from every grade level who share a passion for soccer. Historically, financial constraints and lack of resources prevented the creation of such a club. Now, with the support of the Ed Fund through the Awesome Fund grant, the club anticipates an enrollment of 25 students, aiming to fortify the existing soccer community and address the void in physical education resulting from the absence of a dedicated P.E. teacher. Focusing on community building and physical well-being, the OC Soccer Club strives to achieve three key objectives: fostering a sense of unity, providing a dedicated space for physical activity, and ensuring students have the equipment for practicing their favorite sport.  

Thurgood Marshall High School

La Raza: Over half (60%) of Thurgood Marshall’s students are recent immigrants to the United States, and there is a large Latinx population at the school, with many students from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. With support from the Ed Fund, La Raza has been growing over the past couple of years; last year the group had approximately 25 members, and this school year, they are up to about 35 members. In 2022, several members from La Raza performed a traditional Guatemalan dance at the Ed Fund’s Back-to-School Gala!   

The goal of La Raza is to help everyone – especially new students – feel connected with each other and celebrate diversity of cultures to make their school community more united. During Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), La Raza hosted events to celebrate and teach the diversity of their community. According to club leader Anthony C., “Being more united will help us have a better world. We recognize that many of our parents and grandparents come here in search of better opportunities. We want to continue with this goal of being an increasingly better community.”